At the onset of the holiday season last year, we at Graviton set about identifying the most promising startups being built by India’s young, diverse and technologically supercharged population of web3-focused founders.
The country’s tryst with decentralized infrastructure is best represented by an unmatched ecosystem of early adopters (of blockchain technology, cryptocurrency platforms, and the rapidly expanding space of NFTs). We were interested in finding out whether the nation’s development effort had leveled up enough to support the creation of web3 solutions at scale, catering to this significant population of web3 users. So we went looking.
From sixteen-year old minds invested in creating seamless off-ramping and decentralized payment products, to remotely distributed teams working on innovative layer-1 solutions, to GameFi innovators targeting the next billion online gamers through web3 offerings… The sheer range of utility and value projected in these pitches, is next to unbelievable. India’s web3 founder demographics could easily put the early dotcom boom days and the age of internet 2.0 to shame. With nearly equal gender representation, and an incredibly diverse spectrum of impact areas, the available data is a goldmine of optimism as far as the future of India’s blockchain economy is concerned.
From an initial glance at the highest level overview of sectors that a clear majority of founders are working on; Innovative blockchain infrastructure solutions and novel DeFi platforms are in the clear lead (more than a third of all applicants are cumulatively building for these categories).
It is extremely heartening to see India’s inspired minds cracking away at these solutions, given the sizable opportunity to level up against current standards in cross-chain interoperability, transaction efficiency, security, storage, deployment speeds, uptime, and other aspects of decentralized development. These founders are building a foundation for a more efficient, scalable (and more energy-efficient) blockchain ecosystem that can support a wider range of dApps and services at scale.
A noticeable chunk of these visionary builders are also getting their hands dirty with early entries into massively popular multiplayer gaming, collectible trading and utility marketplaces, NFT analytics platforms, and creator-economy solutions.
There is a growing interest in digital ownership and the potential for blockchain technology to revolutionize the gaming industry. NFTs, in particular, have gained immense popularity in India, with several high-profile NFT sales taking place in recent months.
But this barely scratches the tip of India’s increasing ability to address some of the more complex problems posed by centralization in niche industry sectors, such as supply-chain management and recruitment. We were pleasantly amused to note that founders from the world’s largest democracy were not far behind in addressing these diverse challenges either.
Despite capitalist and consumerist algorithms dictating the mainstay, and despite the outrageous privacy violations, social media apps have become an integral part of our lives, especially in an economy that hosts more than a billion English-speaking internet users. We are dependent on an arsenal of communication and social platforms to connect with friends, family, and colleagues, share our thoughts, opinions, and experiences, and even conduct regular business.
DeSo platforms have the potential to provide users with greater control over their personal data, eliminate censorship, and enable users to earn rewards for their contributions to the platform. Decentralized identities are also essential for the future of social media. These identities are self-sovereign, meaning that users have complete control over their personal data and can choose who to share it with. This is a significant improvement over centralized identities, where users have to trust the platform to protect their data.
Furthermore, governance protocols are being developed, which will ensure that platforms continue to operate within the textbook definition of objective democracy, with decisions made by communities rather than a centralized authority. Crypto-insurance is kicking off. Founders are working on services that can provide token-owners with additional security and protection against hacks, token volatility, and most importantly - sudden market movements. A quick study of the events of the past few months tells us just how important that last one is.
Arguably, the most important insight that we took away from this exercise, is how fast Indian teams are able to ship out their ideas, with clearly mapped user journeys, crisp prototypes, and in many cases (more than a third, really), live products.
Notably, some of the more consumer-oriented platforms that we reviewed, such as decentralized VoIP aggregators and GameFi reward platforms are seeing more traction, with products that have evolved and expanded way beyond the MVP stages. But the divide between idea-stage pitches (which are really, only as strong as the team credentials backing them) and market-ready applications, is heavily tilted in favor of the latter.
The sentiment is further reflected in the fact that more than 30% of all applicants have already secured some form of institutional capital, via grants, angels, and pre-seed / seed rounds.
It’s safe to say that India’s web3 dream is in strong hands, and that it’s embedded into an inspired pedigree of founders.
From a bird’s-eye investor POV, the growth atmosphere is electric. With teams demonstrating their ability to think beyond the norms defined by an entire era of centralized infrastructure, we appear to be closer than ever to a point of no return, as far as the web3 “takeover” is concerned.
We encourage you to follow this journey closely as it unravels further, through the sixteen weeks that lie ahead for our summer cohort. Show your love for the game on Twitter, and never miss an update from Graviton, where the excitement of India's web3 dream is transforming into reality.
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